The dust has settled a bit now on last week. Darren Ferguson has gone and speculation as to who could be the next Doncaster Rovers manager is now in full swing.
However, once the dust settles it usually means a clearer vantage is available and I have become increasing frustrated as my view of the scots departure has sharpened.
It does, to me at least, smack of someone who has, for want of a better phrase “bottled it”. This coming season would be one where reputations are placed on the line. An accepted season of consolidation under our belts, now expectations turn towards some progression and upward mobility. We are getting to crunch time. In this position a manager shows his real worth, bringing in the missing pieces in personnel, the odd tactical change and astute shuffle, lines the troops up and unleash them on a successful season. Do this, press for the top 6 and reputations are enhanced on and off the field, stocks rise, futures brighten.
Fail to do this, stand still or even worse spend 10 months drudging through a relegation battle and the opposite starts to happen and people begin to reminisce about when “that Darren Ferguson used to be a decent manager”.
Moaning about a unsatisfying budget at Doncaster Rovers is like moaning that a McDonalds cheeseburger doesn’t contain a nice artisan blue cheese and the finest, corn fed wagyu beef. What did you expect? The budget must’ve been clear for months and months if not longer to the manager. It strikes me that it wasn’t so much the budget that changed than the amount of money the manager required to throw at the squad to cover his own deficiencies.
At previous jobs he’s had the luxury of throwing hundreds of thousands of pounds at players to provide a smokescreen for his own tactical and managerial failings, but in South Yorkshire there is not that kind of money to waste so a bit more nouse is required to frugally stretch out funds, a Yorkshire staple after all.
Looks like bottom line is that faced with this challenge and the threat to his personal reputation he has walked, clearly without the stomach for the fight. Walking away from a board who could’ve sacked him twice in the last two years (once for an appalling run which cost us relegation 2 years ago and once when another dreadful run cost us the league two title 12 months ago) without so much a gentle blush over the failure to repay that faith shown in him, when many others would’ve shown him the door. Even this season we have seen a side regularly performing to a level less than the sum of its parts and a transfer policy that has brought virtually no improvement on the side including a six figure fee for a midfielder who can’t get in the team regularly.
It’s not just the fact of him whimpering away, it’s also the timing. Now we are left trying to find a replacement alongside a host of other clubs scrabbling around for a manager, in time for him to rake through what is left among a grave yard of already cherry picked transfer targets. I can’t help but think it all feels like a bitter betrayal. We are no better off in real terms, than when he took over in October 2015.
Some people have blamed the board and the budget for forcing Ferguson to leave. No way, rather than be held to ransom over money which could jeopardise the future wellbeing of the club I’d have got rid of him, no problem. If that’s the decision the board had to make I’m pleased we parted company, even if it provided Ferguson with the self preservation, ‘get out while the reputation is in tact’ exit he craved. My disappointment rests solely on a manager who didn’t give his club what it deserved, or what it had given him. The self styled, fiery Scot, who takes no messing around is gone with a quiet whimper under a cover of excuses. Shame, I hope we get someone made of sterner stuff this summer.